Social Determinants of Work Initiative
The Social Determinants of Work (SDoW) Initiative will convene organizations across Greater Cleveland to strategically advance access to work by mitigating barriers faced by workers, promoting employer practices that lead to good jobs, and advocating for policy changes that address systemic barriers.
The Initiative’s roadmap for change is laid out in the Community Action Plan.
What are the Social Determinants of Work?
First described by Dr. Angela Jackson, the Social Determinants of Work framework describes an interconnected web of challenges that workers must navigate daily in order to arrive and thrive at their workplaces.
There’s a pervasive American myth that anyone with a strong enough work ethic can succeed, but in reality, workers face a complex array of barriers that motivation alone cannot overcome. People living in or near poverty often work long, hard hours, but are trapped in low-wage jobs by obstacles that have nothing to do with their qualifications or abilities. These barriers to economic mobility are collectively called the Social Determinants of Work.
Dr. Jackson, United Way, and Towards Employment have identified eight barriers to work that are addressed in our Social Determinants of Work Initiative:
The Social Determinants of Work Initiative seeks to alleviate the impact of these barriers through three levers:
Focus programmatic efforts on the mitigation of select, intersecting determinants.
Encourage Employer Practice Shifts
Empower employers to implement practices and policies that enable workers to achieve economic mobility.
Eliminate Systemic Barriers
Drive systems-level change by promoting public policies that recognize the intersectionality of the determinants.
Community Events and Input
At United Way we have taken a community-oriented approach to understanding how the Social Determinants of Work operate in Greater Cleveland. At every step we solicited input from community members, including individuals facing barriers to work, other non-profit agencies, and local employers. In addition, we have hosted multiple public events educating around and problem solving for economic mobility.
July 2022 • Worker Cliff Effects Summit
A summit on the effects of the benefit cliff which engaged attendees in creating a list of assets and gaps.
Fall 2022 • Community Action Plan Working Sessions
A series of community conversations aimed at capturing the diverse experiences of different populations within our region.
March 2023 • Social Determinants of Work Symposium
A symposium exploring the barriers faced by workers in our community, with a Keynote Speech by Dr. Angela Jackson, founder of Future Forward Strategies.
Community Action Plan
Our Community Action Plan sets a bold vision for enhancing access to meaningful work for all members of the Greater Cleveland community.
By harnessing collective action, United Way will convene organizations across Greater Cleveland to increase opportunities for people to escape poverty’s generational grasp, secure living wages, and prosper.
Driven by research, rooted in the lived experiences of our community members, and inspired by private, public, and nonprofit partners, the action plan revolves around 5 key strategies:
Harness the power of collective impact through the creation of the SDoW Coalition.
Focus programmatic efforts on creating significant impact in select determinants.
Empower employers to implement and evaluate practices and policies that enable workers to make steady progress towards a better financial future.
Drive systems-level change by promoting public policy that recognizes the intersectionality of the determinants.
Commit to action, partnership, and transparency.
Community Action Planning Session Partner Organizations
Thank you to the organizations working with us on this important initiative. Our partners bring invaluable expertise and resources to the table and are integral to the success of our Social Determinants of Work efforts. Together, we are seeking solutions to a collective problem through collective action.